When it comes to gifting jaw-dropping floral designs for special occasions such as birthdays, graduations, wedding anniversaries, or Valentine's Day we usually prefer to leave the task to professional florists and therefore opt for buying pre-made bouquets. This year, however, DIY projects have taken over as everyone spends more time at home, and a personally made bouquet makes for an even more thoughtful gift. With a few easy tips and tricks, you can surprise your loved one with a dashing floral arrangment, or even make it a Valentine's Day activity and create special bouquets for each other (or yourself). As Valentine’s Day approaches, L’OFFICIEL speaks with Aurea Sanabria Molaei, founder and creative director of Flower Bodega, a floral design and content studio based in Brooklyn, NY, for her advice on creating an at-home bouquet.
With 12 years of experience as an event producer for luxury fashion and entertainment brands, Molaei got to work on sets with so many different florists that she eventually fell in love with the practice and ultimately decided to attend Flower School at The New York Botanical Garden to nurture her passion for floral design. Coming from an extremely fast-paced and stressful environment, Molaei found flower arranging to be a meditative and calming activity to balance out the rhythm of her hectic daily life. Now, Flower Bodega offers nationwide virtual workshop kits in addition to event, editorial, content and experience-based florals. Here, Molaei shares all the steps needed to craft the perfect DIY bouquet this Valentine’s Day using accessible blooms anyone can pick up at the grocery store.
Choose a color story
When choosing a color story for her floral arrangements, Molaei usually gets her inspiration from all sorts of mediums, from cinema, music, and photography, to magazines, furniture design, and fine art. “Even our new Valentine’s Day collection is based on a mood board of inspiration from different film characters or old photographs that come with their own music playlists that fit their vibe, and their color palette is very telling,” says Molaei.
So start by pulling inspiration from something that really speaks to you and then find colors that work together or can tell a story through your flowers. If you want to be the most economical, Molaei suggests to purchase pre-made grocery store bouquets that are usually quite colorful and busy and then break them up into their own color stories. But remember to stick to monochromatic flowers for a more sophisticated and elevated feel. “You don’t want to do reds and then all of a sudden have a random white or yellow, it has to make sense,” warns Molaei.
Pick your flowers and play around with them
After you have decided on the color story you want to tell, it’s time for you to pick the different types of flowers you want to use and get a little crafty by playing around with textures, heights, and movement. Molaei recommends to first go for focal and large bloom flowers such as peonies, ranunculus, tulips, or roses, with the last two types being perfect for the so-called petal reflexing technique to change their shape. “It’s a very easy tip where you fold the petals back onto themselves so it opens the bloom up and it creates a very dramatic effect and almost transforms the look of the flower,” says Molaei.
For filler and gestural flowers, Molaei goes for "flowers like alstroemerias, which have a lot of small blooms with beautiful greenery." They have "a lot of movement, which creates a lot of dimension and interest for the eye,” she adds. Other filler and gestural flowers you can easily find at your local grocery store or bodega include limonium, solidago, wax flower, and hellebores, “which are lighter in texture and contrast to the bigger bloom but complemented at the same time,” says Molaei.
To round out your floral arrangement, Molaei proposes to add some greenery like eucalyptus, ruscus, or myrtle. According to the florist, your composition should ultimately end up having “one type of greenery, one type of bigger bloom flower, and one type of gestural or filler flower."
Take care of your bouquet
Once you have selected the type of vessel to hold your bouquet in—which can range from glassware and barware to old bottles you have around the house—Molaei says to always remove any greenery on the stem that will go below the water line. This way, you will prevent the water from smelling bad, bacteria from forming, and you will be able to extend the lifespan of your flowers. Trimming stems at an angle to prolong their healing time and ability to drink up water is also advised, and you should also make sure to keep your blossoms away from direct heat or radiators, sunlight, and cold air. Last but not least, don’t forget to change water out frequently, “every one to three days,” recommends Molaei, “and to re-trim stems with every water refresh.” Your DIY grocery store flower bouquet (and Valentine) will thank you!